October 2008 selection, NFO book club

This book found me, during a visit to Toronto last month. While the underlying theme is not a new one for many of us, women’s relationships and dealing with day to day struggles, this novel explores a time in our history that has been forgotten. This is Ami McKay’s debut novel. It is a # 1 bestseller in Canada, the winner of three CBA Libris Awards and the movie rights have been purchased.

The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations, living in an isolated village in Nova Scotia. She is drawn to an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing. Dora becomes Miss B's apprentice; together they help the women of Scots Bay, and stand up for their beliefs as western medicine starts to invade their town. An unforgettable story of the struggles women have faced to have control of their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine.

Type: Historical fiction, 368 pages, trade paperback
Discussion Guide: Yes
Book Club Recommendation: Yes, I loved this story. It is well written, a new subject matter with well developed characters. I recommend this for all book clubs as there is so much to discuss.

An arresting portrait of the struggles that women faced for control of their own bodies, The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare—the first daughter in five generations of Rares. As apprentice to the outspoken Acadian midwife Miss Babineau, Dora learns to assist the women of an isolated Nova Scotian village through infertility, difficult labors, breech births, unwanted pregnancies, and unfulfilling sex lives. During the turbulent World War I era, uncertainty and upheaval accompany the arrival of a brash new medical doctor and his promises of progress and fast, painless childbirth. In a clash between tradition and science, Dora finds herself fighting to protect the rights of women as well as the wisdom that has been put into her care.